Forever Silenced.

Though I have not posted an entry on this site in quite some time, I do still think about my job at the funeral home from time to time.  It was a side job for me.  Not a career, but a temporary job that payed the bills.  Of course, it became so much more than that since I did enjoy the work and found each day to be an intriguing adventure.  I have respect for those in the funeral business, now that I know what they do.  Well…I have respect for most of the people in the funeral business.  Some of the folks I worked with were not the greatest people I had ever met, and some were.  I guess as with all jobs, you have to take the good with the bad.

One of the most profound feelings I had during my first week on the job as a removal staff person had to do with what I referred to as “the shell.”  I saw more dead bodies in the first few days of my job than I had ever seen in my entire life.  And each one, unique in their own way, had something in common:  there was no one there.  Silence.  I know that seems cliche and perhaps obvious, but for the first time in my life, I viewed the human body as nothing more than a shell for a human spirit.  Once that spirit was gone, the only thing left was the lifeless body.

I’m not the most gifted writer in the world.  In fact, I seldom spend much time recording my thoughts.  My words are more impulses that are blurted out on a computer keyboard.  But I hope, in some small way, the feelings and ideas I have are communicated and received by you, the reader.

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~ by claytonguiltner on December 10, 2011.

17 Responses to “Forever Silenced.”

  1. I am interested in talking to you about your stories.

  2. I am wondering how would one get a job like that it seems really interesting

  3. You have interesting stories … And I also share that same idea of bodies being no more than a shell for our spirits

  4. The process is amazing.

  5. I’ve got more questions that haven’t been answered on your site here. Please email

    Tf4624@g mail.com

  6. I just discovered these stories today, and I’m utterly captivated by them. I really hope to see more stories soon! You’re an excellent writer!

  7. Please keep writing….I am a reader all the way from Kenya in Africa

  8. It’s quite an experience. Lifeless silence.

  9. Please post again soon….. It’s been too long!

  10. Hi I’d just like to say I respect everyone in your field of work. Thank for for sharing your stories with the world and being So professional in your job and helping the family of the deceased tide over the difficult period of losing a loved one.

  11. I do enjoy your stories, would like more if you have the time…

  12. Was captivated by your postings, and read your blog in its entirety.

    Stories about death and the disposition of the deceased can be, on one hand, disturbing and even depressing. On the other hand, it is fascinating and most interesting to read these behind-the-scenes accounts, especially from the perspective of an “average Joe” who unexpectedly found himself witness to, and a participant in, the daily goings-on of a world kept hidden from the public eye.

    It is all very well written. You are the perfect “fly-on-the-wall” witness: very observant, honest, and objective.

    It’s been 1 1/2 years since you last posted. Perhaps you’ve told all that can be told. If not, I hope you do resume posting at some point.

    Death and dying is too hidden and sanitized, at least in America. No one ever hears tales of the funeral industry unless it’s something unsavory and scandalous, which makes all funeral workers look like insensitive money-grabbers who pray on grieving survivors. Your’s is a very different and welcome perspective.

  13. I once worked with a guy who, like you, had previously worked on the “removal staff” at a funeral home. His stories were similar to yours, except his were from a polar-opposite moral counterpoint.

    With a bit too much enjoyment, he told me all kinds of unsavory tales: Stealing jewelery and valuables from the deceased, treating their remains like a slab of dead meat, doing “funny” goofs and pranks with the bodies, and worse.

    He said it was standard procedure for him and his coworkers to check-out the naked bodies of dead young women, to judge how “hot” they were. “Copping a feel” of an attractive deceased’s breasts was virtually “required”. He also said that sex with cadavers was very common, and that everyone turned a blind-eye to it.

    He also told me, very adamantly, to NEVER bury a loved one with any jewelery or other valuables, because these items would be taken by the gravediggers once the family had left the cemetery. He said this rifling of the casket is a standard custom from time immemorial, as gravediggers consider it a necessary and deserved addition to their otherwise low pay.

    He got fired because he was to remove a body from the hospital across the street, thought it ridiculous to drive the van a stones-throw away, instead simply pushed the gurney across the busy street, and created a scene.

    I have actually worked within the “death industry” myself…

    I was a subcontractor’s project manager for a major renovation of our city morgue, where, in fact, all autopsies in my state are performed. I could do my own blog on all the creepy things I witnessed there. Lots of mangled corpses, body parts, and terrible crime scene and cadaver photos.

    Probably the most shocking and interesting thing was the variety of bizarre ways bodies would come in. Many were from murder and suicide scenes, and, of course, they were brought in exactly how they were found.

    For example, one time a body arrived with its arms wrapped-around a huge tree branch – a rope and noose ran from the branch to the victim’s neck. It looked like a suicide, but, of course, they had to make sure there wasn’t foul play. Another guy came in with a Bowie knife through his neck – a pimp who tried to chase-down a trucker that refused to pay. The pimp stabbed a tire on the trucker’s rig, but the knife blew-back and went straight through the pimp’s neck. I could go on and on.

    Though the ME staff were very professional overall, they also tended to treat bodies like so much dead meat.

    I also did extensive work in a local funeral home, installing CCTV and audio systems. Again, I was privy to things that most people will never see, and most would never want to see. I never really got used to it, but I can certainly see how one would over time.

    I got to know the owners and staff of the funeral home. Unlike my creepy, morally-retarded ex-coworker, they always acted thoroughly professional behind closed doors, and were some of the nicest and most caring people I’ve ever encountered.

    Just some of my own limited experience on the subject, for what it’s worth.

  14. You are an amazing writer! I was captivated!! I think the best “stories” are the one’s in which the writer has had some experience personal experiences (in the area … or just a really good imagination). But anyways – really good!!
    PS I admire your writing as real life experiences too :)

  15. I stumbled across this blog while researching a story I’m writing. I agree with the other commenters — your writing is excellent — well observed and compassionate. Keep writing. The world needs all kinds of voices.

  16. Very good accounts about a subject that we, in America, are not often exposed too, death. It is a normal cycle of life in which we all take part. For us, it is not the end, but a new beginning; only our shell, as you so aptly put it, remains.

  17. Hi, I’d like to know what steps I can take for you to consider reviewing my product which is currently being introduced to the funeral homes in the North East.

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